Thursday, October 6, 2011

The National Hunt Season

Lots of people will tell you that the National Hunt season has already started and they are right but few if any of the real stars of the sport have been out yet but come November and December the flood gates open and all jumps fans can get their fill of the action again.

The first major fixture in the calendar is the Open meeting at Cheltenham which runs from November 11-13 with the Paddy Power Gold Cup as the feature race. There aren't many races that Champion trainer Paul Nicholls hasn't won at Prestbury Park but this is one of them and he'll be trying to fend of his West Country rival, David Pipe in a bid to capture the race for the first time. The Pipe stable has dominated this race in recent times, winning it on 8 occasions via David's father Martin. We suspect that the Nicholls yard will be targeting both Tataniano and Mon Parrain at the contest in a bid to land it for the first time. People who bet on racing should remember this.

November provides plenty of Saturday top-class action and hard on the heels of the Cheltenham extravaganza comes Betfair Chase Day at Haydock Park, and with the race having a good record of producing Gold Cup winners it looks to be the ideal target for last season's Gold Cup victor – Long Run to make his seasonal reappearance in, before heading to Kempton to defend his King George crown. Rounding off the month is the three day Winter Festival at Newbury where one of the toughest and best loved handicaps of the entire year takes place in the shape of the Hennessy Gold Cup. Anyone following the racing betting should bear this in mind.

December doesn't start quietly either as the speedy top-class 2-milers take centre stage at Sandown's Tingle Creek meeting, and then the action returns to Cheltenham for what is known as their International meeting on December 9-10. That meeting sees the hurdlers come to the fore on the International Hurdle, formerly known as the Bula Hurdle, where Champion Hurdle aspirations start to form amongst the leading protagonists.

The year draws to a close with the Winter Festival at Kempton Park and the thrilling spectacle of the King George, Long Run looks to be in pole position to retain his crown and you never know he is young enough to challenge Kauto Star's four wins in the race. The two days at Kempton Park are a tremendous way to end the year, and just three months later it's time for the Cheltenham Festival again – a tremendous winter awaits jump fans.

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